Friendship Shelter welcomes new officers and two new directors to their board in 2024

Friendship Shelter announced the new slate of officers and welcomes two new members to their board. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Friendship Shelter is governed by an elected board of directors who provides strategic direction and financial oversight.

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Photos courtesy of Friendship Shelter

Friendship Shelter Board President Michael Gamerl

Laguna Beach resident and newly elected Board President Michael Gamerl is an education consultant who had been a long-time volunteer with Friendship Shelter before joining the board in 2019. “Throughout my years of involvement with Friendship Shelter, I’ve always appreciated the organization’s data-driven approach to ending homelessness. What started as a community effort in Laguna Beach has grown into regional leadership across south Orange County with results that speak for themselves. Since 2019, Friendship Shelter’s programs contributed to a 23% reduction in homelessness in south Orange County and a 60% decrease in unsheltered homelessness in Laguna Beach. I couldn’t be prouder to have been elected to serve as the board’s president and look forward to the challenges ahead,” Gamerl said.

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2024 Friendship Shelter Board Officers (L-R): Secretary Tom Salinger, Past President Wendy Aird, President Michael Gamerl, Treasurer Cameron Jalbert and Vice President Christy Cornwall

Joining Gamerl are Vice President Christy Cornwall, Secretary Tom Salinger and Treasurer Cameron Jalbert. Friendship Shelter also elected two new directors to the board in early 2024 – Lisa Bartlett and Roge Rupp – with the goal of adding diverse voices from individuals with varied personal and professional experiences.

Lisa Bartlett is the first Japanese American elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, starting her first term representing the Fifth District in 2014. She served as chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors in 2016 and again in 2019. Bartlett served two terms as mayor of the city of Dana Point in 2009 and 2014. In 2023, she was named director of Government Services for ProcureAmerica, a division of SIB Holdings, that focuses on government, healthcare and education sectors. In this role, Bartlett works with a wide range of government agencies, large nonprofits healthcare systems, and educational institutions to reduce costs relative to major expenditure areas.

Roge Rupp is a real estate finance executive who worked at Indymac Bank during the housing crisis. As manager of the Southern California Division Retention Department, she and her team worked tirelessly to keep people in their homes. Rupp is currently a consultant with UNIDOS South OC based in San Juan Capistrano, aiming to bring about systemic change by easing the housing cost burden and empowering community residents to advocate for their needs.

Friendship Shelter was founded in 1988 and is dedicated to ending homelessness in South Orange County, one person at a time. It operates a full spectrum of services including shelter, outreach, housing navigation, financial assistance and permanent housing with supportive services. They believe in a housing-first and harm reduction approach and value the unique experience of each client they serve. All programs employ trauma-informed principles and are housing-focused, low-barrier and client-centered. Friendship Shelter’s Housing team works with more than 250 individuals who have experienced homelessness and are now living in their permanent homes. They operate rapid re-housing, housing with vouchers and permanent supportive housing programs. Last year, 97% of housing tenants remained stably housed. For more information, visit

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